Washington State Launches New Trip-Planning Tool For Truck Drivers

Six months after a devastating landslide gave way in Oso, Washington, burying 43 people and blocking state Highway 530, officials have taken another step toward recovery with return to normal traffic on the route.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has launched a new, online tool to help truck drivers plan their routes.

The new tool makes it easier for truck drivers to research bridge heights and other potential problems.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, at the time of the Skagit River Bridge collapse, the department was in the process of updating its bridge clearance information.  “The newly collected bridge data became a springboard to develop the state route bridge vertical clearance trip planner as part of WSDOT’s overall response to the collapse,” the Washington State Department of Transportation states.

“This innovation offers truckers a new tool to find the safest route for their trip,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “It applies lessons learned from the Skagit River Bridge replacement, and it will reduce the risk of collisions throughout the system.”

The department’s new trip-planning tool utilizes GIS mapping, which shows drivers which bridges are on their planned route should be avoided and which bridges have heights that vary by lane.

WSDOT reminds drivers that the “ultimate responsibility” for checking bridge and overpass clearance is theirs but says the one tool will make it easier for drivers to check clearances and restricted routes.

The Washington Trucking Association assisted with the development of the trip-planning tool.

In addition to the new trip-planning tool, “WSDOT also has clarified its commercial vehicle policies, initiated a statewide review of all signing for low-clearance structures, added the bridge clearance list to its road restrictions webpage and added a step-by-step guide to help drivers determine what type of permit they should request. All bridges with a minimum clearance of 16-foot, 6-inches and lower also will be re-measured as part of a comprehensive statewide review scheduled for completion in late 2015,” the department states.

WSDOT will continue to update the trip planner and will add new features, such as lane-by-lane height information.  They expect that information to be updated by 2017.